Now that the temperature has finally dipped below 90 degrees (and a pox on the TV weather people who ooh-ed and ahh-ed their way through the once-in-a-century Thanksgiving heat wave like it was a freakin' fireworks display), we're in the holiday season, and some of my thoughts are turning to the plights of my fellow man. Among them:
• A Guy I Actually Sorta Feel Sorry For: Jeff Flake. Seriously, just imagine that you've spent your entire life doing things the right way (or, at the very least, doing things in what you consider to be the right way). He was born in Snowflake, which is half-named for his great-great-grandfather. (Yes, the other founder was named Snow, so if the one guy had been really stubborn, we could have a Mormon enclave in the White Mountains named Flakesnow.)
He grew up strong and proper, went to church, played ball, and got good grades. He made his LDS hajj to Brigham Young University, then went off on a Mormon mission to South Africa and Zimbabwe. (I wonder if Flake has ever snuck into a showing of The Book of Mormon, which is about two LDS missionaries in Uganda.) He even speaks Afrikaans, which means that he can sound like that embassy worker in Lethal Weapon 2 who, when told that Danny Glover's character wants to emigrate to apartheid South Africa, says, "But...but, you're bleck!" (After which, Joe Pesci nods and says, "You are, you know.")
Anyway, Flake eventually graduated from BYU, married his college sweetheart and started a family. He greatly admired Barry Goldwater, the Arizona political icon who hit the Infamy Daily Double in 1964 by taking a historic presidential ass-whuppin' at the hands of Lyndon Johnson and joining with the Southern Racist Bloc in voting against the Civil Rights Act.
Flake even became, for a time, the head of the Goldwater Institute, a right-wing group that used to have a philosophy but is now just a cabal of money-grabbers and teacher haters. He eventually found a gerrymandered congressional district and began his political career in earnest.
He worked on his political chops like they were guitar licks. He embraced his blues side like Jeff Beck; he mastered chords like The Edge; he even worked on bending the guitar neck like Stevie Ray Vaughan. If his time ever came, he had to be ready.
And then, suddenly, unexpectedly and inexplicably, came the election of 2016. The Republicans were going to hold a majority in the House and the Senate, and they would also have the White House. Flake's time had come. He would soon be driving the rhythm for a Hall of Fame band like The Eagles or maybe showing off his funk chops with Earth, Wind and Fire. Life was about to get real good.
Instead, he shows up for the gig and the only band that's there is a lounge act from the local Holiday Inn, one that plays covers of covers, losing 20 percent of the quality with each iteration. They can't do any originals, and the players are barely functional on their instruments. They know the words to the songs, but they can't really sing. And their leader is a bad Elvis impersonator with the white suit (to show off his racial preference), the big gut and a head that looks like an alien life form just fell out of the sky and plopped down.
Flake, who had spent his entire life getting ready for his Shot, realized that his dream band no longer existed. Over time, they had gone from Muddy Waters to Led Zeppelin to Def Leppard to...Ted Cruz. He has to be seriously bummed.
But he's still young (he turns 55 on New Year's Eve). Maybe real conservatism will make a comeback in his lifetime. He's going to have a hard time in the near future seeing as how the majority of Republicans in Arizona have lost their damn minds and have pledged their undying love and supply of bodily fluids to the Elvis Impersonator.
• A Guy You Might Think I Should Feel A Little Bit Sorry For, But I Really Don't: Coach Sean Miller. So, you lost three straight games? Big whoop! It happens. Well, it's never happened to me, but I just coach high-school girls. Some people might think that that would be harder than coaching five-star athletes, but I'm not so sure.
The problem for Miller is twofold. First off, he's got a bunch of players who, from the time they were 10 years old, have had their butts wiped by adults who really should know better. They've played on travel teams named Elite and Stars and Ballaz. Not one of them could guard a chair with a gun, though. Defense is for lesser beings.
Coach Miller, my teams always played man-to-man until, one year, I had a squad with only six players. We had to go zone to stay out of foul trouble. You should try it. Maybe your guys would end up close enough to their opponents to actually get into foul trouble. That would be a welcome change.